What’s Up Week 27: Slowing Down

As the coverage season (at least for me) approaches, things are slowing down mostly because time becomes less and its the process to just not burn out on certain types of writing before getting to the main thing.

READING

Lifelike

  • Lifelike by Jay Kristoff

Currently reading: The Serpent-Bearer and the Prince of Stars

Its been a long time but I finally wrapped up Lifelike (and got a mild sunburn in the process). I have some pros and cons to Lifelike for sure. Putting obvious fatigue and and being preoccupied with other things aside, Lifelike did take me a little while to get into so I have some issues with it but at the same time, its a good comparison for Jay Kristoff as a solo author writing sci-fi and his ideas while comparing them to when he teams up and co-wrote the Illuminae Trilogy. That review is coming up soon-ish.

PLAYING

Seeing as it was an event coverage weekend, gaming was not really that much at home. Instead, I did try out a few games at Montreal Comiccon. You can find the recap of the Indie Game Zone HERE. Below are some games that we had a chance to try out:

I linked up the Steam pages in case you ever are interested and wanted to check it out!

Other than that, its been pretty much the same as I’ve been on the move mostly so playing mostly mobile games:

  • PinOut
  • Two Dots

I’m going to be honest that I don’t think gaming is going to be too vibrant. But I have skipped two mobile games roundups for Game Warp so the hope is to get one of those up by the end of July as I have been playing a lot of mobile games.

WATCHING

the virgin suicides

  • Lick the Star (short)
  • The Virgin Suicides

Movies and Tea is still in its After Hours episodes with only one of three episodes released. Due to my busy schedule, Elwood and I had decided to get the first episode Season 3 recorded to just get things started. Our next author, in case you don’t follow the Movies and Tea Facebook page, is Sofia Coppola. We chose her for multiple reasons. One of them being that her movies are more dramatic which definitely is a change from Paul W.S. Anderson and Guillermo Del Toro. We kick off with The Virgin Suicides, which I had seen only a few years ago but I don’t think I reviewed because I couldn’t quite grasp how I felt about it overall. This time though, I tried really hard to make sense of it all and notice the little things. I’m not going to talk too much about it as you can hear it all on the upcoming episode.

BINGING

Stranger Things S3

  • Umbrella Academy (Season 1, 2019)
  • Stranger Things (Season 3, 2019)

Currently binging: Love Signal, River Flows To You, “My Highness” The Class Monitor

Back to some Netflix TV binging for us this past week as the husband was on his vacation (well, staycation). I wanted to check out The Umbrella Academy for the Montreal Comiccon and wrapped that up during the beginning of the week. Maybe on Canada Day. Then the husband got really excited about Stranger Things Season 3 launching on Thursday and started that up right away so despite media coverage season, I still found some energy to watch it and I think, we binged it over evenings. I’m prioritizing the TV binge for Stranger Things and Umbrella Academy so it should come out over this month some time. Its already in the works.

As for the currently binging stuff, My Highness should end next week whereas River Flows To You and Love Signal is still in early stages. For the moment, I’m not starting anything new until after July. At thats the plan…but you never know with a new season for Queer Eye, Sugar Rush and Orange is the New Black coming up in July, its going to be hard to resist.

That’s it for this week’s Whats Up!

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Double Feature: I Am Mother (2019) & Tau (2018)

Its time for the next double feature! This time we have a double Netflix Original sci-fi films. The first being 2018’s Tau and paired with the recently released I Am Mother.

Let’s check it out!

Tau (2018)

Tau

Director: Federico D’Alessandro

Cast: Maika Monroe, Ed Skrein, Gary Oldman

A woman is held captive by a scientist in a futuristic smart house, and hopes to escape by reasoning with the Artificial Intelligence that controls the house. – IMDB

One location films are always quite alluring to watch. It needs to set its space and utilize its surroundings. While Tau is mostly set in one location or at least in one building for the majority of the film, the film doesn’t only manage to use its environment to its advantage but rather it uses the main character’s relationship with an AI. Its about the future where a scientist tries kidnaps disposable people for his experiments to test his technology. In the process, this woman ends up destroying a part of his lab and ends up in his living quarters which is controlled by this AI called Tau who manages the entire house from the scientist’s needs to being the security system and so on. However, it taps into the desire for higher intelligence to learn and their desire to become human. The need for more knowledge and the curiosity builds a connection is what ends up manipulating Tau into falling for the charms of this woman.

Tau lies heavily on its characters. While it stumbles a little in its set-up and even some of the logic, its not a bad film. Maika Monroe takes up the main female protagonist role and does a fairly decent job as she uses her observation to connect with Tau, voiced by Gary Oldman, using his desires as his weaknesses. Gary Oldman takes up the voice work for Tau in a very impressive way. In some ways, Tau is resembled to a child and his bonds and loyalties also become altered as he learns more information and of the “deception” around him. Ed Skrein takes up the role of the scientist who is in a time crunch to prove that his new technology works and of course, with the resistant subject, it becomes harder and ends up causing him a lot of trouble.

Tau plays around with not only the concept of control between the different characters as well as manipulation. At the same time, one of the downfalls is overusing the emphasis of how creepy the scientist is. Ed Skrein spends a lot of time simply observing Maika Monroe’s character from afar and it highlights on her playing on his desires to be close to her and being reluctant, which seems pretty unnecessary in the spectrum of things and feels like its done only for one purpose, making some of the scenes feel a little force in the flow of events rather than it being a more natural evolution. Overall, Tau has its better and weaker elements.

I Am Mother (2019)

I am Mother

Director: Grant Sputore

Cast: Luke Hawker, Rose Byrne, Tahlia Sturzaker, Clara Rugaard, Hilary Swank

A teenage girl is raised underground by a kindly robot “Mother” — designed to repopulate the earth following the extinction of mankind. But their unique bond is threatened when an inexplicable stranger arrives with alarming news. – IMDB

Almost set in a one location throughout the entire film, I Am Mother uses the concept of a post-apocalyptic future where a robot is tasked with repopulating mankind starting with a girl. However, as the girl gets older, she starts suspecting what is outside the bunker especially after a stranger starts telling her that the robots are not what they seem. I Am Mother manages to drive its suspicions quite deep even with its tight cast revolving three characters, two humans and one robot. The thrills are quite good and to be honest, one of the most outstanding parts of the film is Mother, voiced by Rose Byrne, who not only grasps the tone very well to control the atmosphere in the bunker but also the robot design itself in its movements particularly is rather creepy especially in how it captures its speed.

While robot design and atmosphere takes a lot of credit for this film’s great execution, young actress Clara Rugaard and seasoned actress Hilary Swank does put in great performances. At the same time, the story itself is also quite clever. Its one that keeps its audience wondering along with the young girl who is telling the truth and who is lying and if so, what is the bigger plot behind it all. While questioning, what the outside world is like in this version of the post-apocalypse. Even the ending is well thought out and gives a good wrap-up to the story that addresses its many questions set out and even ties up some loose ends.

I Am Mother is definitely one of the excellent Netflix Originals to have been made. While I’m not quite a sci-fi fan, this one delivers on almost every element.

What’s Up – Week 26: Halfway through 2019

We’re halfway through 2019. Man, time just flies by. We’re in a bit of a mixed bag now. I would love to recap the first half of 2019. At the current stage, I’m quite behind in the Goodreads challenge and my favorite book of the year so far has to be Obsidio. In terms of games, its been quite slow in the reviewing and not so much the playing lately but my favorite game so far is

READING

Lifelike

Currently reading: Lifelike

At about 90% done, this past week was a lot of fatigue at work and such that it was less time reading and more time just napping when I got a chance. Lifelike is a decent story. I have a few issues with it that I’ll talk about it in the book review which should be coming up. A little backlog going on right now, which is good, since I need it to break up some of the upcoming film review heavy month.

PLAYING

  • Geometry Dash
  • PinOut

Going back to some older games that I was playing before this week. Some people find Geometry Dash frustrating or raging but I actually find it rather relaxing to play. Maybe its the music or the simplicity of the game mechanics and the complete focus you need to complete the task. At the same time, PinOut has been downloaded again onto my phone for a little pinball fun.

WATCHING

Tau

  • Tau
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Movies are still a bit light but I’m okay with that because you don’t even want to see what my Fantasia Festival list looks like right now. It was at a shocking high amount which I had to cut down for time and sanity purposes (as well as sleeping and working needs). However, the two movies that I chose to watch this week were pretty good. I know Pirates of the Caribbean 5 is not exactly a masterpiece but I’ve always had fun watching these films. The humor works for me. Its really the highlight through probably goes to Tau, which seems like Netflix is getting a decent sci-fi run on its Originals seeing as the last film I saw, I Am Mother was also quite decent. There are some little issues but overall, its not bad. Review for this one coming up in the next double feature. Side note, I still have two films to wrap up the 26 films for the Netflix “alphabet” but I didn’t get around to watching the movies so we just work with what we have at the moment.

BINGING

love timing

  • Love Timing (Season 1, 2019)

Currently  binging: “Your Highness” Class Monitor, Heart Signal (Season 2), Umbrella Academy

Love Timing finally ended and so far, I have to admit that this version of the whole social matchmaking concept works the best out of the three that I’ve seen. I’ve noticed there is one more version of it on the Zhejiang TV channel. I’ll line that up for later viewing probably. Putting that aside, I am the most invested in this series maybe because both the observing commentators (whatever you call them) were quite natural and fun while still having some little info here and there. At the same time, the way the linking part works also was the most fun to do and the real people involved was also a good span of both personalities and had a nice dynamic that you can see change over the course of the time they spent at the house.

On the currently binging end, things have slowed down quite a bit. I’m still watching Your Highness Class Monitor which honestly is getting slightly disappointing. Heart Signal Season 2 is just one episode a week and its at their 2nd episode so things are still just opening up but I’m not too invested just yet as compared to the first season. While the husband and I did start up Umbrella Academy on Netflix and am half way through the season. Its good because Umbrella Academy has a panel at Montreal Comiccon and I’m looking forward to finishing it before then.

That’s it for this What’s Up!
A little bit old and a little of catching up and a little bit of new.
It seems like a  nice place to be at half of the year.

What have you been reading/watching/playing/binging?

Double Feature: The Ritual (2017) & The Silence (2019)

Its time for the next double feature. This time we are looking at two Netflix Original movies. Both are in the horror/thriller categories as well. As our second R selection, it went to The Ritual, which to be honest was a surprise addition due to movie night choices. Moving right along with the alphabet, we landed on S selection being The Silence. Two movies that looked pretty good but one worked better than the other.

Let’s check it out!

The Ritual (2017)

the ritual

Director: David Bruckner

Cast: Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier, Sam Troughton, Paul Reid

A group of college friends reunite for a trip to the forest, but encounter a menacing presence in the woods that’s stalking them. – IMDB

The Ritual is a mix of supernatural and back country kind of horror thriller. Its one of those situations where the characters all seem to have their own story behind this trip and because of it, its definite that the drama will cause them to break at some point. At the same time, its always these decisions that some characters will make some bad decisions and get into some trouble. I spent a lot of the first bit having a whole discussion of when its time to GTFO but of course, if they did, we wouldn’t have the movie (at least a shorter version).

Thing is, as much as I say that some decisions were illogical, The Ritual is one of the more solid horror flicks coming out of Netflix Originals selection. One of it has to do with the fact that its characters have some contrast. While there are a few too many that some don’t truly have their purpose, they each have their own issues to deal with in the spectrum of the story. In some ways, it feels a bit like everything happens with too much coincidence (ex. some guy twists his ankle right at the start of the trek) and then they still decide to go forward instead of backwards. Various other signs of addressing the dangers around them as well happen. However, deal is once the ominous bits start, its atmosphere builds the tension up and that is the saving grace of the film. It also has to do with a fantastic sense of lore, that I wish was a little deeper especially since the dangers we see are done in a timely fashion, revealed bit by bit to execute a good level of suspense.

The Ritual might have some lack of depth and a bit of it feels like its on rails but it does so well in execution and atmosphere building, using the terrain and the forest that these friends are lost in that its easy to forgive a lot of the other stuff and be immersed in this increasing suspense and horror and wondering what will happen next.

The Silence (2019)

the silence

Director: John R. Leonetti

Cast: Stanley Tucci, Kiernan Shipka, Miranda Otto, Kate Trotter, John Corbett, Kyle Breitkopf, Dempsey Bryk, Billy MacLellan

When the world is under attack from terrifying creatures who hunt their human prey by sound, 16-year old Ally Andrews (Kiernan Shipka), who lost her hearing at 13, and her family seek refuge in a remote haven. – IMDB

The Silence is one of those films that (I think) landed during a phase of that overly used in a short amount of time idea of being stuck in a post-apocalyptic world where one certain sense is over reliant. In this case, its about being silent and the sense of hearing and survival. This horror film can be best described as a movie that starts off pretty strong but goes has a massive downward spiral as it crashes in the final act and then ends the film in a fairly abrupt way. Its not so much as a bad film as much as its a disappointing one. The main issue had to be with the final act when a new danger element adds into the already existing factors. It just felt unnecessary.

With that said, there was some elements that did work such as the sound design and the creature design. At the same time, Stanley Tucci is such an underrated actor and its great to see him in a lead role. Between him and even young actress Kiernan Shipka who plays his daughter, and I’d say the starting group of family and John Corbett as his best buddy, they all set a good foundation for all the characters involved. It was when some new characters get added in near the end that really gave the story a weird turn of events.

There isn’t much to say about The Silence. In some ways, a lot of its separate elements work and there are some moments that also work fairly well. However, its those moments that felt useless or added very little to the story that make the execution fall apart. For myself, the ending just didn’t quite cut it especially with the lackluster segment before that and the people they encounter before the finale.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen these two films? Thoughts?

TV Binge: Nailed It! (Season 3, 2019)

You can find previous Nailed It reviews below:

Season 1
Season 2
Holidays
Mexico

Nailed It! (Season 3, 2019)

nailed it 3

Host: Nicole Byers, Jacques Torres

Home bakers with a terrible track record take a crack at re- creating edible masterpieces for a $10,000 prize. It’s part reality contest, part hot mess. – IMDB

Nailed It has been doing really good. While the series itself really follows one simple formula and stays in the fairly small season batches of only about 6 episodes and a special here and there, it seems to work very well especially in small doses. This TV binge is going to be fairly short because there isn’t a whole lot of different to say about the show. That isn’t a criticism in any way because why fix what isn’t broken, right? To me, that applies very well in this situation.

Nailed It 3

For those following Nailed It, the mistakes that people make among the contestants do sometimes feel like they generally get repeated. However, the show still manages to offer tips in both cake decoration as well as the actually baking method and how to approach these intricate cakes. Let’s be fair that some of these cakes look like they probably take longer than the time allotted to them in these situations (but then what do I know, my baking is much less design and more simple practicality). However, it is the accidents and the silliness and in turn, the final results that make Nailed It so much fun to watch. It definitely feels like one of the few that focus on amateur baking. I had some criticisms about the season 2 breaking away from its formula and adding in other elements less baking and more fruit carving and such, however, season 3 finds itself back to its roots and I’m very happy to see it do that. While I think those other things have its potential to be fun to watch, just like its hinting at the DIY Nailed It idea, its a nice spinoff to do but just not as part of an amateur baking show.

Nailed it 3

However, the heart of Nailed It still lies in its hosts. Nicole Byers, especially in Season 3, has truly found her place in it. Her humor hits all the time at the right places. Her pairing with Jacques Torres is starting to really also find its rhythm as well. At the same time, over these few seasons, they have also made a true character out of Wes and giving more screen time and having more creative ways of making an appearance with the trophy and whatnot. Its all in the name of fun and entertainment and its only 6 episodes but packed with a lot of it.

Are you a fan of Nailed it?

What’s Up Week 18: Currently Ongoing Update

Welcome to Week 18 of What’s Up! We’re back on track now and things are slowly rolling back into action. Its mostly currently ongoing things but at least something is happening rather than nothing. It sounds a bit pathetic when I look at it but the energy levels are back to normal by the end of the week and its time to get more movies watched (and reviewed) and some more games as well.

READING

Justice For Belle

Currently reading: Justice For Belle

I’m currently reading Justice For Belle. I mean, I’m literally only 10% into it so I have the absolutely basics and set up of the story right now. However, this is an ARC so…it goes live on May 15th which should be around the time that I get the review up, maybe on the 16th. It gives me some time to finish reading and form my thoughts. I need to pick up my pace in terms of reading as I’m falling behind on the Goodreads Challenge.

PLAYING

danganronpa trigger happy havoc

Currently playing: Danganronpa Trigger Happy Havoc

I’ve been meaning to start Danganronpa for a while and finally dived in at the end of the week. I literally just finished the prologue and decided that I’m not playing this one with the husband because if thats the case, I have to read it out and its a lot of reading as its very much a visual novel with some mystery twist, I think. Anyways, this one is set for a long haul as I believe it clocks in at about 30 hours so not doing the recording for it either because its going to be too long.

WATCHING

the silence

  • The Silence

There is this new wave of movies that target your senses and the latest horror Netflix Original, The Silence is all about being quiet again just like A Quiet Place. I have a few issues with The Silence so its going to be interesting to write up that review. Overall, lets just say, it starts off good and spirals downwards real fast. Not the way you want your horror movie experience to be. Sad, because I really love Stanley Tucci and he gets this leading role and its for this lackluster horror film.

BINGING

  • Z Nation (Season 1)

Currently binging: The Brightest Star in the Sky, Put Your Head on My Shoulder, Idol Producer, Produce Camp 2019, Flipped, You vs Wild, Brave New World, Escape Room, Z Nation

I’m enjoying everything that I’m currently binging but as The Brightest Star in the Sky comes to a close with 2 more episodes falling into the next week, its at the point where I’m having very deep feelings and love for this series. At the same time, Idol Producer is an older series so I ended up trying to be more on track with the current Produce Camp 2019 since I have some trainees in there that I’m really interested in giving some support for. At the same time because of Produce Camp 2019, I ended up pushing forward watching Flipped because of Kido Gao. I got back into watch Brave New World, a variety show and Escape Room as well is catching up as well. Z Nation is still the show I watch with my husband and we finished Season 1 and went right into Season 2. As for my pick right now is trying out You vs. Wild, an interactive Netflix series which I’m doing one episode per day and so far, its been quite fun. I’m liking it more than Black Mirror: Bandersnatch which I only tried for 10 minutes and stopped.

That’s it for this What’s Up!
What have you been reading/playing/watching/binging?

What’s Up Week 14: And the second quarter of 2019 begins

As we enter into the second quarter of 2019, things are finally seeming to get some balance as nothing seems to be too skewed to one category, which is how I’d like for this segment to go (but I know its only a rarity). Either way, I don’t deliberately do anything so it was all a relatively fun week.

READING

fables vol. 2

  • Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3) Review
  • Fables Vol.2 Animal Farm

Currently reading: The Collection of Negatives

The Illuminae Files did not disappoint and actually its made me crave for some more sci-fi reading adventures (although I usually end up regretting it afterwards). Its the format and structure of this one that really works for me. Of course, I’m falling behind in the Goodreads Reading challenge with 8 books completed out of 40 (2 books behind..although one of the selections had 4 books together..so am I still behind?). I am also working on some of the other little things sitting around like graphic novels and such, which leads me to Fables Volume 2 Animal Farm. I like the Fables thing especially with Telltale Games The Wolf Among Us that really worked for me, sadly with the company’s shutdown, the sequel isn’t happening. Maybe some other company will pick up on the idea and adapt some game in that realm, we never know, right?

PLAYING

futuregrind

Currently playing: Omnicube, FutureGrind

Back to some previous titles that I put down and forgot to get back to. Surprisingly fun with company rather than solo even if these are single player games. They are more indie titles  and things that take priority. The first is a puzzle game called Omnicube which is about shifting colored boxes into their colored portals. It got pretty challenging after a while. As for FutureGrind, its a fun little arcade game where its a bit like Trials but with a two wheel bike that you have to rotate to go on the right colored rails. It sounds easy but things get a little harder. Both of them have a back story to it. Either way, I’ll be getting those playthroughs up on the channel soon :). I’ll be gaming more to build up some backlog for the second half of April when things get too hectic to even think about gaming, let alone editing.

WATCHING

incredible hulk

  • The 5th Wave
  • Gods of Egypt
  • The Incredible Hulk
  • Ouija

My double feature segment may be in order but I don’t always follow the order when watching it, mostly because my husband wouldn’t watch some of those movies with me so I bumped them backwards. Among a bunch of not so good movies (notice the pattern yet?), the standout this week has to go to The Incredible Hulk. I had the initial ambition of doing my own little Marvel marathon until I realized that I only had Phase 1 films from MCU and then Netflix pulled a lot of the older ones and I wasn’t going to rent or buy them so I quickly dismissed that idea. Anyways, I finally caught up with The Incredible Hulk which was the only Phase 1 movie that I hadn’t seen so now to catch up with the newer titles, starting with Spiderman Homecoming next in line.

BINGING

On My Block s2

  • On My Block (Season 2, 2019) Review

Currently binging: The Brightest Star in the Sky, The Singer 2019, Mr. Swimmer, Great Escape, The Legend of White Snake, Viva La Romance (Season 2), Master in the House

TV series is going to be the death of me. So many new ones, variety and drama, and they were all on my radar and came out at the same time. The Singer 2019 is hitting its finals so that is going to end soon and I’m still taking a break from Mr. Swimmer (probably will until I get another 4 more TV binges done to thin out the backlog more) however keeping it here so I don’t forget to finish it up. The issue with Great Escape and Viva La Romance Season 2 is that they are only able to watch full episodes on Mango TV app and that app isn’t compatible to Chromecast so its a pain to watch on the phone so I only watch it certain times of the day. My guess is Master in the House is going to be the same way as it seems Mango TV is taking this new approach probably to maximize their profits from their own app and not benefit YouTube. I get where they are coming from but its just inconvenient. With that out of the way, my fave series right now is The Brightest Star in the Sky and The Legend of White Snake which is currently streaming on Tencent app.

That’s it for this What’s Up!
The starts of the 2nd quarter has been pretty good!

What have you been watching/playing/reading/binging?